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Malkin, Talbot Progressing Towards Recovery

by Sam Kasan / Pittsburgh Penguins
On a day when the Penguins added defenseman Brooks Orpik to their injury scroll (two weeks, lower body), the team did receive some positive news on the injury front.

Both forwards Evgeni Malkin and Maxime Talbot participated in the team's morning skate in black jerseys. Their wardrobe change was significant because it means that both players have been cleared for contact in practice. Previously both men wore red "no contact" jerseys.

Malkin has missed the past two weeks with a shoulder strain while Max Talbot has been recovering from offseason shoulder surgery.

Head coach Dan Bylsma gave an update on both players and the significance of their recent progress towards health.

"We have the same timeline we had before. Max (Talbot) is out of a red jersey (Thursday). That just means he is progressing. I think he is a little over four months in a four-to-six month injury. He has been cleared to have contact so he is progressing as we have talked about before. Geno is the same way. We are past the two-week mark in his progress. He is progressing well. Hopefully that means they keep with positive signs going forward."

"It was my second time practicing hard and it feels great. I hope to come back soon," Malkin said.
"It was my second time practicing hard and it feels great. I hope to come back soon," Malkin said. "My shoulder and body are better. It was a good rest. I feel stronger now. I feel awesome. I won't play tonight (against New Jersey) but maybe next game."

The next game would be Saturday when the Penguins host the Boston Bruins at Mellon Arena. If Malkin were able to rejoin the lineup, it would be a huge boost for Pittsburgh.

Talbot's return is not quite as eminent. Though he is cleared for contact, he is still at least 10 days away from returning to game action.

"There is not a chance I will come back before another 10 days," Talbot said. "After that we will say “maybe tonight” but we will take the next 10 days to see how it feels and then after that I will concentrate on maybe playing."

Nonetheless, being able to participate in full contact in practice shows that his shoulder is healing and getting stronger.

"Yeah, it’s a big step," Talbot said. "I got cleared for contact (Wednesday). I feel like we are still a long way. It doesn’t mean I will play tonight at all. It just means I can go and do every drill. If I get a hit my shoulder is strong enough to absorb it. There is still some movement (issues).

"Everything feels good. There are still some movements that are weaker than others that I am (working on)."

For now, Talbot is concentrating more on getting healthier and not on when he could possibly return for the Penguins.

"I still don’t want to aim for a game," Talbot said. "I am still going to take it day-by-day. I am still trying to get it stronger and stronger. There are no dates or games, it is just trying to really get ready for every situation in games where I can help the team and be strong. If I have to take a draw, be able to take a draw without a problem. If I have to absorb or give a big hit, I’ll be able to do so. I want to be close to 100 percent when I get back so I can help the team."

Along with Talbot, the Penguins will proceed with caution and the coaching staff will monitor each player's progress, making sure they return to the lineup only when they are healthy and ready to contribute.

"Some players will try to convince you they are not sore," Bylsma said. "It is something you have to keep in the back of your mind with each player. We want to try to make sure we do what is best for the player with a given injury or situation. That is what you do whether it’s Geno or Max or Tyler (Kennedy)."

Player, Injury (Date), Time Frame, Current Progress
Maxime Talbot, torn labrum (July 7), 4 to 6 months, practicing (cleared for contact)
Sergei Gonchar, broken left wrist (Oct. 20), 4 to 6 weeks, practicing (no contact)
Evgeni Malkin, shoulder strain (Oct. 29), 2 weeks, practicing (cleared for contact)
Tyler Kennedy, undisclosed (Nov. 5), day-to-day, no ice participation
Kris Letang, shoulder contusion (Nov. 7), 2 weeks, no ice participation
Brooks Orpik, lower-body (Nov. 10), 2 weeks, no ice participation
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